Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides, is an archipelago of more than 80 islands, achieving independence from France and Britain in 1980. The islands are mountainous, and much of the territory is covered by tropical rainforests. Vanuatu was first inhabited by Melanesian people, and the first Europeans to visit the islands were the members of a Spanish and Portuguese expedition in 1605 who claimed them for Spain. France and the UK claimed parts of the country and in 1906 they agreed on a framework for jointly managing the archipelago until independence in 1960. The capital city is Port Vila on the island of Efate. The people of the islands are welcoming and friendly, and the islands are more than just a beach escape. In addition to the picture-perfect beaches, you can witness an ancient living culture, see the world's most accessible active volcano on the island of Tanna, snorkel in crystal clear blue water, visit primitive villages and hike through the rainforest to the famous Millennium Cave!